By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred Gray IV
USS JOHN C STENNIS, At Sea – Trash is compiled from all spaces throughout the ship, and it stacks up rapidly; but there are certain Sailors responsible for processing it.
Waste management is part of the auxiliaries division of the Engineering Department responsible for processing and properly disposing of the waste aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
With the magnitude of trash compiled on a daily basis, it is crucial that Sailors in waste management properly dispose of it in a quick and timely manner.
According to the ship’s waste management logs, 87,480 pounds of waste was processed in November. With a crew of 23 temporarily assigned duty (TAD) personnel and five Sailors from Engineering Department covering both day and night shifts, it may often appear overwhelming to keep the trash under control.
“Sometimes it feels like the ship against us,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brinton Holland, the waste room supervisor. “We process thousands of bags a day.”
The ship has 12 waste-processing machines dispersed throughout the ship, and if one becomes inoperable it becomes a problem for everyone wanting to dispose of trash.
When inoperable equipment causes trash to pile up, news of it travels quickly up the chain of command and the problem becomes a top priority for senior leadership, said Holland.
All hands are responsible for sorting trash to ensure the equipment operates at maximum efficiency and doesn’t become damaged or cause harm to personnel.
“Nobody wants to dig through other peoples’ garbage, but if they separate it into plastics, burnables, pulpables and metals, and do the pre-staging, it’s really easy to take the trash to one of the waste rooms and in five seconds be on your way,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Michael Graybill, waste management’s leading petty officer.
Sailors working within waste management have to follow the instructions and guidelines put in place by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the equipment technical manuals because one EPA violation for dumping plastic in the ocean can result in $186,000 fine.
“A lot of people get upset that we scrutinize so much about one piece of plastic in a bag that’s to be tossed overboard, but what they don’t see is by preventing that one piece; we are preventing thousands,” said Holland.
And these guidelines are put in place for a good reason.
“With about 81,000 pounds of trash, the TAD personnel don’t have time sort through every bag,” said Graybill. “If the ship does their part processing waste, things become much easier.”
It is a big responsibility for a small group of Sailors to bear alone, but with an all-hands effort, Sailors can assist in waste management and help solidify Stennis’ place among the “green fleet.”
For more information about the EPA guidelines refer to NAVSEA S9593-DD-GYD-010 or contact the waste management office.
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.
Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Jordan Jones, of Greensboro, N.C., and Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Ryan Thomason, of Denver, prepare a bag of shredded plastics to be processed in one of the compressed melting units in waste room four aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. -Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred M. Gray IV.
Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Jordan Jones, of Greensboro, N.C., explains to Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Ryan Thomason, of Denver, how to use one of the compressed melting units in waste room four aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. -Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred M. Gray IV/Released)